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Over his three decades at Sports Illustrated, Paul Zimmerman wrote countless features, big-game stories and profiles of the figures who intrigued him and shaped football. Though his greatest reputation was as man who understood the intricacies of the game and could convey them to the fan better than anyone else in the business, his colleagues and devoted readers admired him equally, or more so, for his artful longform stories, crafted in an inimicable cut-to-the-point style, often laced with Zim’s subtle humor. These are some of his most memorable SI stories:


• Man Not Myth: Chuck Noll, Part I (July 21, 1980)

• The Teacher: Chuck Noll, Part II (July 28, 1980)

• The Patience of a Saint: Archie Manning (June 8, 1981)

• The Best Offensive Lineman of All Time: John Hannah (August 3, 1981)

• Violent and Eloquent: Lester Hayes (October 5, 1981)

• The Mad Stork: Ted Hendricks (October 17, 1983)

• The Man of Steel: Jack Lambert (July 30, 1984)

• Al to World—Get Out of Our Way: Al Davis (September 5, 1984)

The Long Way Up: Howie Long  (July 22, 1985)

• The Bronk and the Gazelle: Could Nagurski and Hutson play in the modern NFL? (September 11, 1989)

• The Ultimate Winner: Joe Montana, Part I (August 6, 1990)

• Born to Be a Quarterback: Joe Montana, Part II (August 13, 1990)

• Screen Gem: Sid Gillman (September 2, 1991)

• LT on LT: Lawrence Taylor (September 16, 1991)

SI Recommends

• Sportsman of the Year: Don Shula (December 20, 1993)

• The Golden Boys: Notre Dame’s Greatest Teams (November 24, 1997)

• Revolutionaries: Quarterbacks Who Changed the Game (August 17, 1998)

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John Unitas, the ultimate field general, Baltimore vs. Washington, December 1964.

John Unitas, the ultimate field general, Baltimore vs. Washington, December 1964.

From his memoirs, Zim’s all-time team:

• Dr. Z’s All-Time Team: Part I—Offense

• Dr. Z’s All-Time Team: Part II—Defense and Special Teams

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Dr. Z also wrote 14 Super Bowl game stories for Sports Illustrated. All of them are linked below.

• Super Bowl XIVThey Were Just Too Much: The Scrappy Rams Had ’Em on the Ropes in Super Bowl XIV, but the Steelers’ Old Pros Prevailed Once Again (January 28, 1980)

• Super Bowl XV | This Was the Time for One Good Man: Given All the Time in the World to Throw, Jim Plunkett Formidably Came to the Aid of His Team, Passing for Three Touchdowns as the Oakland Raiders Routed the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV (February 2, 1981)

• Super Bowl XVI | X’D, O’D and KO’D: Cincinnati Was Dazzled by a Master of Deceit, Bill Walsh, then Doomed by a Gutty Goal-Line Stand as San Francisco Won Super Bowl XVI (February 1, 1982)

• Super Bowl XVII | Hail to the Redskins! Hail Victory! And Good Grief! The Whooping Began After Good Young Charlie Brown Scored the Clinching TD Against Miami in Super Bowl XVII (February 7, 1983)

• Super Bowl XVIII | A Runaway for the Raiders: Playing an Old-Fashioned Man-to-Man Brand of Football, Los Angeles Beat Washington 38–9 in the Super Bowl (January 30, 1984)

• Super Bowl XIXThe Niners Were Never Finer: In San Francisco’s 38–16 Super Bowl Rout of MIami, It’s Hard to Say Which Was Better, the Offense or Defense (January 28, 1985)

• Super Bowl XX | A Brilliant Case for the Defense: Playing the Most Devastating D in Super Bowl History, the Chicago Bears Routed the Patriots for the NFL Title (from the February 3, 1986 issue)

• Super Bowl XXI | Killer Giants: Behind Pinpoint Passing by Phil Simms, the Giants Routed Denver in Super Bowl XXI (from the February 2, 1987 issue)

• Super Bowl XXII | One Super Show! Nattiel’s 56-Yard TD Catch Put Washington in a 7–0 Hole ... Now Down 10–0, the Skins Nearly Fumbled Away a Kick ... and Soon After, Williams Went Down—and Out ... But then Sanders Broke the Big Play ... And the Rout Was On! (from the February 8, 1988 issue)

• Super Bowl XXIII | Joe Cool: The 49ers’ Joe Montana Knocked the Bengals Cold With a Spectacular Late Rally in the Super Bowl (from the January 30, 1989 issue)

• Super Bowl XXIV | The Calm and the Storm: Before They Took the Field Against the Denver Broncos, the San Francisco 49ers Prepared for the Super Bowl the Best Way They Knew How. Some of Them, Like Bubba Paris, Geared Up for the Trenches. Others, Like Joe Montana, Thought About Their Families. Then the 49ers Went Out and Answered the Call to Glory (from the February 5, 1990 issue)

Super Bowl XXV | High and Mighty: In One of the Best-Played Super Bowls in 25 Years, the New York Giants Used Their Power Game to Wear Down the Buffalo Bills, Who Fought Back But Fell One Point Short (from the February 4, 1991 issue)

Super Bowl XXVII | Big. D, As in Dynasty: Dallas Provided a Preview of Things to Come With a Super Bowl Route of Buffalo (from the February 8, 1993 issue)

Super Bowl XXVIII | The Fumble! Dallas Bashed Buffalo in Their Super Bowl Rematch, As Miscues Made the Bills Four-Time Losers (from the February 7, 1994 issue)